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[caption id="attachment_4590" align="alignright" width="323" caption="Jiddu Krishnamurti (photo from http://www.buddhasangha.com/)"][/caption] This short excerpt is from Krishnamurthi’s response in one of his many talks he participated in during his life time (1895 – 1986) where he is explaining the state of higher awareness and his rational for trying to achieve it: […….] Mind cannot think completely, fully, if it is tethered to a belief.  It is like an animal that is tied to a post by a string.  It does not matter if that string be long or short; it is tied, so that it cannot wander fully, freely,...

[caption id="attachment_4634" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Pansy, the model who gave her time to us for portraiture photography"]Pansy, the model who gave her time to us for portraiture photography[/caption] After the Starbizz's Shooting Date event at Dataran Pahlawan last Sunday, Kenn-Wai, Angel and I went for a coffee at the Old Town Cafe. We shared the shots we took for the event with each other, and taking advices from others to improve our shots. Kenn-Wai, who does a lot of portrait photography, shared his valuable portraiture photography experience with us. We were so motivated and wanted to put this into practical. While brainstorming for a subject to shoot, Angel's friend, Pansy came and joined us for the coffee session. Straight away we invited her to be our model. We then moved to an open area of Dataran Pahlawan, and the four of us had a short discussion of our camera, the area and atmosphere, light sources, and the posture of model. It's essential to study this before shooting. Although this was not a planned photography session but it was so fun to learn and to spend time with friends. We had to thank Pansy for sparing her time with us, and of course being patient with us. Special thanks to Kenn-Wai and Angel for their company and sharing their experience which benefits me so much. May everyone be happy. Sharing some shots after the jump:

[caption id="attachment_4581" align="aligncenter" width="385" caption="尼国‧捡拾弃米求暖肚"][/caption] (尼日利亚)在尼日利亚北部卡齐纳州(Katsina)的一个著名穀物市集,工人正忙著搬运一袋袋用麻包袋包装的玉米粒,哈莉拉阿朵(Harira Ado)一手抱著18个月大的女儿,一路捡拾散落在地上的穀类来养活家人。 由於工人在搬运一袋袋的穀物时,难免会有掉落下来的穀粒,这时阿朵就会弯下腰来捡拾地上的穀粒。 现年43岁但看来有些虚弱的阿朵并非唯一在卡齐纳州著名的国际市集内捡拾穀物的人。 与其他200名妇女一样,这名拥有7名孩子的母亲从邻国尼日尔(Niger)移居过来。尼日尔最近几个星期的雨势不稳定,导致农作物歉收并引发严重粮荒。

[caption id="attachment_4561" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="Japan's Shark Fin Capital, Kesen-numa City. This is the picture that sparked a global outcry. (by Alex Hofford)"]Japan's Shark Fin Capital, Kesen-numa City. This is the picture that sparked a global outcry. (by Alex Hofford)[/caption] KESEN-NUMA CITY, JAPAN - It's 5am on the the north eastern tip of Japan's main island of Honshu, and 75 tons of dead shark is being meticulously arranged into a neat grid of tidy piles, of twenty sharks per pile. If you thought shark finning was exclusively a Chinese problem, think again. Welcome to Kesen-numa City, Japan's shark fin capital. Here, six days a week, small teams of Japanese workers go about the hushed business of industrial shark-finning. By 6.30am, with piles arranged, the sharks are disemboweled first. Hearts are ripped efficiently from bodies by men wearing brightly coloured rubber boots and aprons. At 7am, shark corpses are cleaned of their blood by workers wielding water hoses. And by 8am, small teams are silently moving up and down aisles and rows like robots in a Japanese car factory, quickly slicing off every dorsal, pectoral and tail fin from the lifeless, grey lumps. Big hungry black crows squawk in the shadows, looking for bloody morsels. And shark fins plop with regularity into small yellow plastic baskets. The baskets fill up fast, are then weighed, and finally carried to a nearby truck, where a man with a notepad strikes a deal. At 9.30am, it's all over for another day. Fork lift trucks scoop up tons of limbless carcasses, then dump them into a high-sided truck. The process is a brutal sight to behold, and not for the faint-hearted. [caption id="attachment_4559" align="alignright" width="510" caption="Cutting the fins (Alex Hofford)"]Cutting the fins (Alex Hofford)[/caption] The fishing port of Kesen-numa City is located in Miyagi Prefecture in North East Japan, and is the country's only port dedicated to catching sharks. Over two days in early July this year, I saw 119 tons of blue shark (Prionace glaucaof), ten tons of salmon shark (Lamna ditropis), and three tons of short fin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)  landed on the dock at Kesen-numa. Not to mention several tons of endangered bluefin tuna, (Thunnus thynnus), but that's a whole other story. Taking government transparency to another level, landed shark tonnage numbers are provided daily by the port of Kesen-numa's Japanese only website, which is publicly, (and apparently unashamedly), available. About half of the shark fin that is processed in Kesen-numa City is destined for China, mainly Hong Kong and Shanghai. For wealthy Chinese, shark fin from Kesen-numa is seen as a premium, or luxury, brand. Mr Hatakeyama, 45, a shark fin processor from Kesen-numa, said, "Quite a bit of shark fin is sent to Shanghai from here as there are many rich people there. Our shark fin here can command higher prices than Chinese shark fin sourced from elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East or Africa. Even though the Chinese have their own shark fin, they prefer Japanese brands".

[caption id="attachment_4548" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Meng-Hong at a coffee shop in Ipoh (photo credit: Cinda)"][/caption] 巴刹楼上的食肆都各自为政,就连桌椅都形形色色,务必要让客人一眼认出,仅此一家,别无分号的吸引力。当我们选择了要吃的食物后,就必须坐在有该档子记号的位子,否则,他是不会帮你把食物送到别的“地盘”去。 公公爱坐在一间点心档享用早餐。偶尔我和妈妈去巴刹,就会遇到公公一盅两件,手舞足蹈地和朋友们聊天。然后他会唤我们过去,说是要请我们,免费吃早餐。有免费的早餐吃我固然开心,所以刚开始遇到公公时,心里都很雀跃。但后来渐渐发现,那间点心档附近没有我爱吃的面,跑到老远去叫了食物,老板却摇手拧头地不愿送去那里,害我只能闷着吃糯米鸡,喝着不搭配的普洱。 自此之后,我都在心里偷偷默许着,希望下次再去巴刹时,不会和公公碰上。这样,我就能坐在那些面摊前,吃着我要吃的食物。荏苒,我逐渐长大,鲜少陪妈妈去巴刹,也没碰上公公,直到公公去世,我想到再也没机会和他吃早餐,心里不免悲戚。 而今早,我和外子到久违的巴刹去,踏上楼梯的那一刻,仿佛瞥见一个熟悉的老人恣意地喝着普洱,高谈阔论,然后唤我过去,情切如故。 瞬间,眼泪婆娑。 文:刘美君(芙蓉),刊登于星洲日报副刊...